Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and if the last few years are anything to go by, Americans are in a nostalgic mood. First, Hollywood has decided to make all the superhero movies from basically every comic ever made. Then there was that hot minute—which still seems to be ongoing—where it looked like every game/toy from before the 2000s was going to be turned into a movie (“Battleship,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “Zathura: A Space Adventure,” “Ouija,” “Jem and the Holograms,” the Lego movies, “Dungeons & Dragons,” “Trolls,” the two G.I. Joe movies, etc.).
Then there were the TV revivals and spin-offs: “Rosanne,” “The X-Files,” “Arrested Development,” “Will & Grace,” “Girl Meets World,” “Fuller House,” “Raven’s Home,” etc. And finally, the reboots: “One Day at a Time,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Dynasty,” “The Magic Schoolbus,” etc. Hollywood sees reboots/spin-offs/revivals as a better bet than new programming because audiences are already familiar with the characters and therefore form a pre-existing viewer base. Therefore, this type of programming has a significantly higher likelihood of being both greenlit and renewed for a second season.
In today’s “woke” society (and can we pause to consider that “woke” is offensive as a concept because it allows people in a position of privilege to pat themselves on the back for suddenly realizing what they never noticed before: that their fellow citizens have experienced centuries or decades of discrimination? I’m open to debate on this.), one of the hallmarks of these re-imaginings is more diversity, including of sexual orientation and gender identity.
In the new “Charmed” reboot, for example, the three sisters will be Latina and the character who was once Piper Halliwell will become Mel, a “strong-willed feminist lesbian” (are there other kinds?) whose girlfriend Soo Jin is a police detective (true story: half of all lesbians are police detectives. Just kidding, that’s only on TV). In “One Day at a Time,” Anne Romano became Cuban-American Penelope Riera Alvarez and her daughter Elena came out as a lesbian and in season two got a non-binary significant other. In “Rosanne,” Rosanne’s grandson is gender nonconforming.
And then there are the full-on rainbow reboots that are in the works. On 18 April, “But I’m a Cheerleader” director Jamie Babbit tweeted that she was developing “But I’m a Cheerleader” as a TV series for Starz, which is already going for representation gold with its super gay, Latinx series “Vida.” And of course, “The L Word” reboot is in full swing over at Showtime.
Former showrunner Ilene Chaiken has said that the reboot will be set in the same world as the original, with Bette, Alice, and Shane returning to reprise their roles. In addition, the show will have “more inclusion, more diversity, more voices, better representations,” presumably alongside all that “talking, laughing, loving, breathing, fighting, f*cking, crying, drinking, riding, winning, losing, cheating, kissing, thinking, dreaming…”
Not all lesbian-themed shows have made the cut, however. NBC’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” reboot—complete with a promised overt romantic relationship between Xena and Gabrielle—was killed this summer while it was still in the nascent stages. And in the “well I guess that ship sank” category, Freeform is spinning off “Pretty Little Liars” into “Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists,” which will take Alison DiLaurentis as a main character but so far no word of her earstwhile fiancée, Emily Fields, suggesting the USS Emison ran into some rough seas. I guess Freeform is making up for it by giving main character Sydney Park two moms and male character Eli Brown a boyfriend.
What’s missing from all these recent and upcoming revamps, however, is a titular lesbian lead character. Although admittedly TV is moving more towards ensemble casts that de-emphasize the importance of any single character (and also ensures that anyone can be eliminated for any reason; looking at you, McDreamy), most shows still clearly have a primary narrative focal point. “Wynonna Earp,” for example, is an ensemble show, but Wynonna is still the lead. So why can’t the next “Murphy Brown” be lesbian? Or, “The Greatest American Hero” is also being revamped, this time with an Indian-American woman, Meera, as the lead. Why can’t Meera and her super suit find a nice lady to woo?
With that in mind, AfterEllen suggests the following three lez-tastic reboots just to show how it could be done: